Haters Gonna Hate: From Brussels with Love?

 

When Taylor Swift is singing her “Shake It Off” song, she’s not focusing on very deep aspects of life. Granted, while the message to not care too much about what other people say is valid, she is still only singing about dating and dance moves. There are deeper sides to life. Worse haters that are gonna hate …

Today my home country is on fire. Three bombs exploded in two terrorist attacks. It’s devastating. My sister and a good friend were on the metro line going through the station that was bombed shortly before the explosions happened. This one got really close. It’s not worse than the attack in Paris, or the one in Kenya, both last year. It just felt very closeby. I am glad my friends and family are safe, but that doesn’t change the fact that our heart is broken. The images and video footage cut deep.

Drumpf and Dumb Responses

Haters and terrorist gonna hate. Especially if their hatred is fuelled by even more hatred. Terrorists are appalling. They are horrible, selfish people. And it saddens me to see that people are tricked to respond to terrorism in the same low, barbaric way. It is a sign that at least partly, the terrorists have won.

In a Facebook group I am part of, and that is not religious in nature whatsoever, someone immediately hinted at the Muslim population as the origin of the terrorism. How on earth is that your first response? How can you not see that this is exactly the type of reaction that terrorists are hoping for?

Facebook.png

We do not think of atheists when we talk about the horrors of Stalin in the Soviet Era. We do not think of Christians when we hear about American Aryan racist groups. We do not think of Buddhists when we look back at the aggression in Myanmar and Thailand. We do not think of Hindus when we read about the terrorist attacks in India. So why the heck are we always singling out Muslims as terrorists?

Just like I as Christian do not want to be associated with the horror of the Crusades, the vast majority of Muslims do not want to be seen as terrorists. Treating them as such is an act of injustice. Refusing to help refugees, victims of IS, as some idiots are calling for, is a sad irony: they have suffered the same violence and terror, and worse. Who do you think they are running for? They are us. We are them.

When I tweeted something simple as my thankfulness towards Facebook allowing me to check if my family and friends were safe.

I was surprised and upset to get a few likes of Donald J. Trump supporters. People who, when I looked at their profiles, are sharing ideas of hatred and retaliation. I do not want to be associated with the culture of hatred they are promoting. I am appalled by how Trump has taken the terrorist attacks and has fueled even more hatred. He is not a leader to look to. He is a hater that’s gonna hate. And not the “light” type Taylor Swift is singing about, the type that hates your dating and dancing. Trump is representing the type of hate that is horribly destructive to our global society. The type that kills people, and drives others to terrorism.

I cannot fathom the contrast between this presidential candidate and the current President. Obama, who communicated a strong message with a focus on global unity. A president who definitely made mistakes, but also delivered a message appropriate for the pluralistic society we live in; one of cohabitation, one of unity.

And we also should address Trump’s followers because it’s not just Drumpf. It seems to have been the politically correct response to keep claiming that Trump supporters aren’t stupid and to try to be understanding. But that time is over. He’s been exposed numerous times. His hatred has been evident for weeks. And it’s not a wrongful depiction by the media. Just opening his Twitter account shows his venomous message. It is time to agree with James K.A. Smith. People who support a message of hatred are hateful themselves.

“Christians” and Christ

What saddens me to my core, is the fact that Christians – and Trump implies Christianity is his tweet(s) – are jumping on the bandwagon of religious intolerance, and that in the week living up to Easter.

I say Christians, and I mean people who have wrongfully claimed Christianity as their label but haven’t looked at the person who gave his Messianic title to this religious group. Jesus Christ did not preach a message of hatred to his haters. Haters may continue to hate, but if Christ teaches anything, it is to break with the eye-for-an-eye tradition. It is a message of love that Jesus was willing to die for. He was ridiculed by his aggressors. He was killed by his haters. And hanging at the cross, he prayed: “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Trump in the above tweets is completely contradicting Christian theology. He claims he’s praying for my country. But he says he’s the answer to his prayers. I don’t want his crap. We, Belgians, do not want his hatred. We, the world, do not need his hollow and empty prayers. “Christians” can look to Trump and other idiots as their Messiah. I look to Christ, the real deal – you know, the loving kind.

The same goes for “Christians” as for Trump supporters. We’re done with being patient at their racism and religious hatred. This is not a time to silently cover everything with a mantle of love. If so-called Christians lack love for other humans, then we need to speak up. Lovingly, but loudly.

Pluralistic Unity

As I’m writing this, I’m watching Belgian Muslim theologian and former imam Sulayman Van Ael criticising other imams in Belgium for not guiding young Muslims enough in the study of the Qur’an and leaving space for hateful interpretation. “Christian” responses like the ones I have mentioned, and the examples are many unfortunately, require a similar response from us, Christians and Christian theologians. A response of hatred to a terrorist act is how wars are started, not how reconciliation and restoration are achieved. Christ calls us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Peacemakers.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that I have to agree with Van Ael on all worldview matters, but that’s okay. He and I can have a discussion, a debate, or even an argument about God, humanity and salvation. And at the end of it, we’ll shake hands, agree on certain aspects and agree to disagree on others, and still see eye-to-eye. Because that is a pluralistic society in its beauty: opinionated people who can talk about their differences. Listening to each other. Caring about each other.

It warms my heart to see the constructive talks on Belgian television. Guests from multiple races, political views and religions affirming that hatred is not the solution. It fills me with pride that the messages my Belgian family and friends are posting on Facebook are messages of love and hope. I love that many of my fellow Belgians are responding with love.

This is a time for sorrow and sadness. We walk with Jesus to the cross and experience the burden of sin on this world. This is a week wherein we cry out to God and pray for his comforting. This is a week that we crave restoration. The TV report continues, and singer Bart Peeters points out that it’s hopeful that fear in Belgium is slowly being washed away by compassion.

Our national processing – and it is challenging processing from a distance away from my country – has only just begun, but it is my prayer that it will be a process that is soaked in love. It is a prayer where I’m not the answer to. It is a prayer that looks to God for its solution. He will probably want to use us, because that’s how he seems to work.